Calculating Speed

Today, we went outside and measured our speed. First we learned how to calculate average speed. We now know that:

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We then went outside to perform the following tasks:
– mark off 70 meters (we didn’t have enough space to run 100 meters)
– run 70 meters as fast as we could
– record our time
– calculate out average speed

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For fun, we then calculated Usain Bolt’s average speed when he ran the 100 meters in the world record time of 9.58 seconds. During Bolt’s record run, he covered an amazing 10.44 meters every second!

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Gardening 101

Today our Master Gardener, Kimberly Bown, invited us to the garden behind the convent to help our green thumbs get a bit greener. She gave us the lowdown on preparing a garden bed, the science behind nutritious soil, and some detailed information on the simple machines we call gardening tools.

We then turned the soil and planted leeks and zucchini. Be sure to stop by this summer to monitor the growth of these plants, and if there’s a ripe zucchini or two, harvest it and prepare it for dinner! Thanks again to Mrs. Bown for sharing her knowledge with us.20130604-073311.jpg20130604-073409.jpg20130604-073421.jpg20130604-073442.jpg20130604-073451.jpg

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Making Bird Feeders with Mrs. Bown

Today, the fourth graders went to the greenhouse for a visit with our master gardener, Mrs. Bown. She taught us about cones (they’re only called “pine cones” if they come from a pine tree), and the parts of a plant. We then discussed how birds get seeds from cones.

Along with Mrs. Wells, Mrs. Bown then showed us how to make bird feeders out of our cones. We hope you can attach these to trees around your home over spring break so your local bird population can have a nice, hearty feast!

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Measuring Volume…Outside!

Instead of calculating the volume of various objects in our classroom, we decided to take advantage of the pleasant, almost-spring weather by going outdoors. Our outdoor classroom was full of small groups working together to find the volume of everything from tissue boxes to a book. It’s amazing how much a little fresh air can make a task more enjoyable. It was a very nice way to end a fantastic week.

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Earthquake Resistant Buildings

In a recent science class, the fourth graders were asked to create a building that was at least two stories high. They were to use only toothpicks and mini-marshmallows as building materials. Their goal was to have their building withstand an “earthquake”.

Some buildings withstood the earthquake while others had trouble standing on their own, let alone standing during a quake. Either way, we learned some lessons and had fun doing it. In the end, we learned that earthquake resistant designs were aided by a few important engineering techniques: cross bracing, a wide base, and a tapered top.

Check out the video to see the 4A minds at work.

Earthquake Resistant Building Designs from Kevin Baumbach on Vimeo.

There was a kangaroo at school today. No, really.

On Thursday morning, we had one of the coolest assemblies I’ve ever seen. Outback Adventures of Australia came to teach us about animals from a different part of the world. Our humorous host taught us about the habits and adaptations of spiders, snakes, scorpions, and toads. But the highlight had to be the kangaroo, who got up close to many of the fourth graders.

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Apples 101

We were recently invited into the school’s greenhouse by our master gardener, Kimberly Bown, for a lesson on apples. Please ask your child what they learned about this delicious fruit.

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An Attempt at Engineering and Design

Last week, the students of 4A were given a task: design and build a hovercraft with a partner using limited materials. After drawing out plans on Tuesday, students began building their designs on Thursday. The class began buzzing with activity as students brought their designs to life and tested them out. Then they tinkered and tested some more. And again. And again.

Eventually, the building time expired and presentation time began. Each group explained their thought process to the class and tested their hovercrafts out. One failed attempt after another left us all wondering what went wrong.

In the end, we learned that scientists don’t always get it right on their first attempt and that failure is a valuable learning tool.

After it was all said and done, I asked the students a few questions. First, “Before we started building our hovercrafts, how many of you were confident that your design would be successful?” Almost everyone raised their hand, many with sheepish grins on their faces. Then, “If you were given another opportunity to build a hovercraft, how many of you think your second attempt would be successful?” Again, almost everyone raised their hand, many with budding confidence. They were already thinking about what they would do differently if given a second chance. It looks like I might just have to give them that second chance.

Check out the video. Who knew failing could be so fun?

Building Hovercrafts in Fourth Grade Science Class. from Kevin Baumbach on Vimeo.